New Trends in Marine Robotics: Virtual Experiments and Remote Access

A special issue of Journal of Marine Science and Engineering (ISSN 2077-1312). This special issue belongs to the section "Ocean Engineering".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 March 2024 | Viewed by 7061

Special Issue Editors

Laboratory for Underwater Systems and Technologies (LABUST), Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER), University of Zagreb, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Interests: marine robotics; underwater robotics; robotics competitions; educational robotics; unmanned marine vehicles
Marine Systems and Robotics, Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH, Campus Ring 1, D-28759 Bremen, Germany
Interests: marine robotics; ocean engineering; localization; fault management; knowledge representation; long-term autonomy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Istituto di iNgegneria del Mare (INM), Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), 16149 Genova, Italy
Interests: marine robotics; navigation, guidance and control of autonomous marine systems; mission control and supervision; multi-robot frameworks; remote systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Marine robotics is an inherently complex field due to the harsh environment, difficult logistics, and cost complexities when compared to other robotics fields. Sharing infrastructure among different players for increased efficiency has become more popular in recent years. With the COVID-19 pandemic, this trend has been accelerated and translated into a heightened number of remote trials and virtual experiments because of a lack of possibilities for joint field experiments involving several partners. Furthermore, remote access to services and infrastructure has become a major enabler for fast prototyping, almost-instant interventions, and dramatic cost reduction for operation at sea.

The use of marine robotic technologies is changing at a fast pace. The world-wide pandemic situation of the last two years has increased research and development toward remote accessibility of such technologies used to overcome restrictions on close human interaction and travel restrictions. A kick-off step to promote the research in this field was provided by the invited session “Remote access, development and exploitation - A new era of advancements” proposed at the IFAC CAMS 2021 conference. This Special Issue aims to improve the participation of scientist and researchers in this field and is not limited only to papers originating from that session but hopes to receive a wide variety of works.

The goal of this Special Issue is to gather the best examples of these new trends and to systematically collect the best practices and experiences from around the world using remote and virtual trials. This includes describing remote trials, virtual experiments, and hybrid experiments with an in situ component and a remote access component. It also intends to highlight the latest results focused on the remote integration and use of marine robotic technologies, which also allow the use of such technological platforms by non-expert users. We wish to highlight how the marine robotics field has managed to adapt and execute trials within the pandemic restrictions’ context, which can serve as an example not only for marine robotics but also for other fields.

Dr. Fausto Ferreira
Prof. Dr. Francesco Maurelli
Dr. Marco Bibuli
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • marine robotics
  • remote access
  • virtual trials
  • remote trials
  • simulation
  • COVID-19 pandemic

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

24 pages, 15813 KiB  
Article
Remote-Access Marine Robotics Infrastructure and Experiments at LABUST
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2024, 12(2), 317; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse12020317 - 12 Feb 2024
Viewed by 488
Abstract
Marine robotics is a complex field with a potentially high demanding logistics and high deployment cost. This is a barrier to many research groups. On the other hand, some research groups have substantial equipment and infrastructure that are typically underutilized. The push for [...] Read more.
Marine robotics is a complex field with a potentially high demanding logistics and high deployment cost. This is a barrier to many research groups. On the other hand, some research groups have substantial equipment and infrastructure that are typically underutilized. The push for sharing infrastructures was recently accentuated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, remote access experiments became the norm during the lockdown periods. LABUST completed new infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic and prepared it for state-of-the-art remote access from anywhere in the globe. This is important both for research and educational purposes. This article describes the infrastructure, equipment, and methods used for implementing the remote access including the calibration procedures. It also reports on real remote access trials for different applications such as Autonomous ships, diver–robot interaction, and Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) pilots. These examples include both pool and at-sea remote trials, proving the capabilities of the infrastructure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Trends in Marine Robotics: Virtual Experiments and Remote Access)
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25 pages, 20202 KiB  
Article
Remote Operation of Marine Robotic Systems and Next-Generation Multi-Purpose Control Rooms
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2023, 11(10), 1942; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse11101942 - 08 Oct 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1122
Abstract
Since 2017, NTNU’s Applied Underwater Robotics Laboratory has been developing an infrastructure for remote marine/subsea operations in Trondheim Fjord. The infrastructure, named the OceanLab subsea node, allows remote experimentation for three groups of assets: seabed infrastructure, surface or subsea vehicles/robots, and assets at [...] Read more.
Since 2017, NTNU’s Applied Underwater Robotics Laboratory has been developing an infrastructure for remote marine/subsea operations in Trondheim Fjord. The infrastructure, named the OceanLab subsea node, allows remote experimentation for three groups of assets: seabed infrastructure, surface or subsea vehicles/robots, and assets at remote experimentation sites. To achieve this task, a shoreside control room serves as a hub that enables efficient and diverse communication with assets in the field as well as with remote participants/operators. Remote experimentation has become more popular in recent years due to technological developments and convenience, the COVID-19 pandemic, and travel restrictions that were imposed. This situation has shown us that physical presence at the experimentation site is not necessarily the only option. Sharing of the infrastructure among different experts, which are geographically distributed, but participating in a single, local, real-time experiment, increases the level of expertise available and the efficiency of the operations. This paper also elaborates on the development of a virtual experimentation environment that includes simulators and digital twins of various marine vehicles, infrastructures, and the operational marine environment. By leveraging remote and virtual experimentation technologies, users and experts can achieve relevant results in a shorter time frame and at a reduced cost. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Trends in Marine Robotics: Virtual Experiments and Remote Access)
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16 pages, 11020 KiB  
Article
Sailboat Test Arena (STAr): A Remotely Accessible Platform for Robotic Sailboat Research
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2023, 11(2), 297; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse11020297 - 01 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1498
Abstract
Autonomous sailing robots have attracted much attention, but challenges arise due to the sailing tests require an environment with both aerodynamic and hydrodynamic fields and a sufficient number of sailing robots in readiness. A remotely accessible platform with the advantages of low cost, [...] Read more.
Autonomous sailing robots have attracted much attention, but challenges arise due to the sailing tests require an environment with both aerodynamic and hydrodynamic fields and a sufficient number of sailing robots in readiness. A remotely accessible platform with the advantages of low cost, easy operation and high efficiency is the preferred method to solve this dilemma. Consistent with this goal is the design of Sailboat Test Arena (STAr), a remotely accessible platform for sailing robot design verification, autonomous algorithms validation and sailing control practices. All three parts require extensive testing in real water environments. Hereby, for testers around the world, STAr can be accessed without time difference. A variety of local and remote tests have been conducted in the STAr platform at various location around the world. The results show that STAr is a remotely accessible and effective tool in data collection and skill transfer. With continuous adoption and optimization, STAr will continue to serve as a tool to further promote low-cost, high-efficiency and diverse sailing research, and provide opportunities for more people to experience sailing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Trends in Marine Robotics: Virtual Experiments and Remote Access)
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17 pages, 1752 KiB  
Article
Immersive and Non-Immersive Simulators for the Education and Training in Maritime Domain—A Review
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2023, 11(1), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse11010147 - 07 Jan 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2960
Abstract
In the domain of Marine Education and Training (MET), simulators have been utilized for the purpose of training seafarers in the norms for avoiding collisions or for developing the skill of ship manoeuvrability, and even the operation of machinery in the engine room, [...] Read more.
In the domain of Marine Education and Training (MET), simulators have been utilized for the purpose of training seafarers in the norms for avoiding collisions or for developing the skill of ship manoeuvrability, and even the operation of machinery in the engine room, as well as for conducting research on the subject matter of ship structure, specialized vessel operation, working principle of equipment, and shipboard safety training. These tools are even more important when facing disruptive events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In MET institutions, full-mission bridge and engine room simulators have been utilized for teaching seafarers for more than a decade. A Systematic Literature Review (SLR) was conducted to identify immersive and non-immersive simulator applications produced over the previous ten years to improve seafarers’ experiential teaching and learning, in the maritime domain. We retrieved 27 articles using the four stages of PRISMA paradigm: Identification, Screening, Eligibility, and Inclusion. The selected papers were read and analyzed according to the training type, the area of training, and the technologies used. The utilization of immersive and non-immersive simulators in the context of the MET domain has been identified and mapped. A few research studies (9 out of 27) compared immersive and non-immersive simulator-based training with conventional training. The quality and efficacy of immersive and non-immersive simulator training at MET institutions have been studied. A model from the learner’s perspective is essential and recommended for future research to assess efficiency and efficacy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Trends in Marine Robotics: Virtual Experiments and Remote Access)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Remote Access to the Abysses of the Seas: the Blue-RoSES Project
Authors: Antonio Pascoal
Affiliation: -
Abstract: Robotic platforms are extremely useful tools for underwater exploration and data gathering. In the last 30 years there has been a radical change in their production and exploitation; nowadays, they can be considered as common commercial technological devices. However, their employment in scientific and commercial missions at sea demands the physical presence of human operators required for supervision, logistic and operational issues. The accessibility through the internet, thanks to always-connected devices (IoT - Internet of Things) and the dramatic need for remotely performed activities at sea caused by the Covid19 pandemic situation that occurred in recent years have pushed the development of reliable and robust infrastructures for a safe and effective exploitation of robots at sea. The paper aims at presenting the features of the EU-EMFF Blue-RoSES Project, in which a reliable software and communication infrastructure has been designed and developed with the aim of allowing remote (also non-expert) users to exploit robotic platforms for data-gathering in harbour contexts as well as leisurely exploration of the environment."

Title: A user interface design framework for augmented reality supported maritime navigation
Authors: Kjetil Nordby; * Jon Fauske; Etienne Gernez; Steven Mallam
Affiliation: The Oslo School of Architecture and Design
Abstract: Augmented reality (AR) technology has emerged as a promising solution that potentially can reduce head-down time and increase situational awareness during navigation operations. It is also useful for remote operation centers where video feeds from remote ships can be “augmented” with data and information. In this article, we introduce a user interface design concept that supports ship navigation by showing data about points of interest in AR. This approach enables users to view and interact with relevant data in the maritime environment, thereby enhancing their situational awareness and decision-making capabilities by bridging the gap between digital information and real-world features. The proposed concept can provide operational data from various maritime systems, such as radar, GPS, AIS, or camera systems, empowering users with a wealth of information about their surroundings. Developed through an iterative user-centered design process and built as an extension to the OpenBridge design system, an open-source platform facilitating consistent design in maritime workplaces, the proposed concept offers significant benefits to the maritime industry. Furthermore, we use this concept to propose a design framework that paves the way for establishing new standards for AR user interface design in the maritime domain.

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